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It was high noon Wednesday and time for that annual ritual: the announcement of the American Society of Magazine Editors' National Magazine Award finalists...

Taylor Leon

Taylor Leon

Photo By WWD Staff

TEARS AND LAUGHTER: It was high noon Wednesday and time for that annual ritual: the announcement of the American Society of Magazine Editors' National Magazine Award finalists — causing editors to either avoid rivals' gazes for the rest of the day or to shamelessly gloat at least until the actual winners are revealed on May 1.

And while there were the usual suspects this time round — The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, National Geographic — there were enough surprises to make things interesting come the black-tie ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Look at Radar and Portfolio, two titles that face skepticism among media watchers, but that evidently more than pass muster among the peer judges for the awards. Radar, a magazine that is in its third permutation, was nominated for the first time in the prestigious general excellence category, for circulation between 100,000 and 250,000. Portfolio, the Condé Nast startup that has been beset with bad press, was nominated for best magazine section.

The New Yorker and New York, stalwarts of recent years, continued to lead with 12 and nine nominations, respectively. Vanity Fair was strong with six nominations, followed by GQ and National Geographic with five apiece. Esquire, which was nominated seven times last year and won once, did not have as much luck this year, with only one nomination.

Fashion titles didn't have that much success. W received two nominations — one for general excellence and one for photography — while Elle was nominated for essays and Glamour for general excellence for titles with over 2 million circulation, its fourth consecutive nomination in that category. But Vogue was shut out, as were titles such as Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire and In Style.

Some individual finalists were the usual suspects — this year, Christopher Hitchens was nominated for columns and commentary in Slate, having won last year for commentary in Vanity Fair, while The New Yorker's Louis Menand was nominated for the fifth time.

But there were some underdogs to root for. Good, an independent magazine launched by a group of idealistic (and well-funded) twentysomethings, was nominated twice in its first full year of existence, and Raffi Khatchadourian's first-ever byline in The New Yorker, written while he was a fact-checker there, was nominated for profile writing. He wrote about the first American charged with treason in over 50 years.
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